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Leniency due to COVID lockdowns?

Hello n00bster,

I wanted to reply to your post because it seemed very similar to my situation-although I still have about 11 months until my 'official' hand in date. I have had to rely on secondary and simulated data for a lot of my analysis due to not being able to carry out the planned data collection because of the Covid pandemic.

I cannot offer you any certainty about what will happen when you hand in your thesis or when you come to defend it in the viva. However, I will say doing a PhD at any time is an enormous challenge, but doing it in the midst of a global pandemic is an even greater challenge. If you have got this far with your research, kept your family and yourself safe, I say, "very well done!" and don't BIN that thesis!

Academia in general is not very good at talking about mistakes, failed experiments, rough drafts or wrong-turns. I feel it every time I read an article in a high-impact journal or the submitted theses of previous students in my research group. There is little room to discuss the challenges, the mistakes and the need to sometimes change course. All these things have happened to my research and to every single person who has ever attempted to do anything worthwhile in whatever field of research they are engaging in-even if most high ranking Professors will never dare admit that they ever made a mistake or wrote a clumsy paragraph.

I can offer you the things I did that have helped me so far

1. Accept to yourself that the Thesis will never be perfect. It is your first attempt at a (mostly solo) large scale research project. Your advisors and examiners are there to help you get better not just to criticise.
2. Access secondary data in your research field if you can to complete analysis
3. Find a somebody in your institution outside your supervisory team that can take a look at some of your thesis chapters and give you some feedback on what else might be needed. I was lucky that a person who had completed the same programme was still at the University in a post-doc role. They provided good insight into the process of getting to the PhD finish line.
4. Write everything down in your methodology chapter and back it up with evidence from literature that these methods/techniques/analysis have been used before even if they are not the most ideal ones. Think about what was left unfinished or incomplete-maybe that will be your next research project
5. Look after yourself and your family. The thesis often feels like a demanding child, but it will never love you back :)